City won’t renew MOU with Bridges of Hope

By Scott Halasz

XENIA — The City of Xenia will not renew its memorandum of understanding with the group trying to turn a former elementary school into a community ministry hub.

The MOU, between the city and Simon Kenton Bridges of Hope, ends at the end of the day today, along with a moratorium on the former Simon Kenton building’s demolition, and at Thursday’s council meeting President Mike Engle said the city will allow it to expire. SKBOH had hoped to use the city-owned building on West Second Street as a place to facilitate organizations serving community needs including those of homelessness, addiction and poverty.

Despite receiving multiple extensions, the group failed to meet several financial benchmarks spelled out in the most recent edition of the MOU, and earlier this month it asked the city to give SKBOH the building so it had a better chance of acquiring the necessary funding. It also asked for another extension of the MOU so it could operate a temporary winter shelter in the building, for which a variance was approved by the board of zoning appeals.

Instead of extending the MOU, Engle asked SKBOH and Dayton-based Community Action Partnership — which formally expressed an interest in the building — to explore if some type of joint project could be developed.

“This council is absolutely committed in assisting in finding a solution for the problem of homelessness in the City of Xenia,” Engle said at the meeting.

On Friday, Engle said the Simon Kenton building is “still in play” but the city wants to see what, if any, partnership could be formed between the faith-based SKBOH and the secular CAP.

“CAP probably represents the most likely entity that would bring the necessary capital.” Engle said. “(But) all we have here is a letter of interest. They’re definitely lining up their donors, sponsors, and partners to discuss that building and a number of options for it.”

Regardless of who, if anyone, ultimately utilizes the building, it is not plug and play ready. The building needs a new HVAC system, a fire suppression system, plumbing repairs and upgrades as well as roof repairs and/or a replacement, according to Michael Deis, executive director for SKBOH.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.